Conversations with Jim Harrison
Edited by Robert DeMott
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"I would rather give full vent to all human loves and disappointments, and take a chance on being corny, than die a smartass."
Jim Harrison (b. 1937) is well known for his blunt, brave style in prose, poetry, screenplays, and nonfiction. In Conversations with Jim Harrison, the Michigan-born writer's directness and passion shine throughout.
Conversations with Jim Harrison is the first-ever collection of interviews by this well-known, prolific writer whose books include twenty-two volumes of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction published over a period of thirty-six years. In addition to standard literary forms, he has written sporting essays, reviews, literary journalism, food columns, and almost twenty screenplays.
Harrison, a writer devoted to small presses and independent bookstores, has a formidable reputation as a recluse and defender of his privacy. However, he has been open to interviews in America and abroad, particularly in France, where he is very popular.
Conversations with Jim Harrison features interviews given between 1976 and 1999. Although the conversations vary in length, most are traditional questions and answers. In these Harrison has the opportunity to develop his responses fully and cover a wider range of topics than he can in the briefer, profile pieces.
Harrison discusses his peripatetic early life, his desire to be a poet since he was sixteen, and his subsequent "quadra schizoid" attraction to writing poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and screenplays.
A literary outsider who prefers rural life Harrison talks in detail about his colorful, eventful life. He also explores the mutual enrichment he received from nature and civilization.
He talks specifically about a number of his important books-- including Wolf, Legends of the Fall, Sundog, Warlock, and The Road Home. Harrison speaks eloquently about habits of mind, aesthetic choices, intellectual resources, and psychological contexts in his writing. By turns thoughtful, cantankerous, witty, and erudite, his voice reveals a man fully given over to the single-minded pursuit of the art of writing.
Robert DeMott is the Edwin and Ruth Kennedy Distinguished Professor of English at Ohio University in Athens. His recent books include Steinbeck's Typewriter: Essays on His Art (1996), Dave Smith: A Literary Archive (2000), and The Weather in Athens (2001).